If you’ve been working hard on your training program, whether you’re using the C25K trainer, the 10K Trainer, or the half marathon trainer, one thing that you must be attending to on a regular basis is your recovery.
Lack of recovery is perhaps one of the biggest issues that many runners face that will strictly limit their performance improvements. One of the best recovery tools to be taking advantage of is foam rolling, but many runners aren’t putting this to use in their program.
Let’s look at the main foam rolling benefits.
The first big benefit to foam rolling is the fact it’ll lower the resulting soreness you experience post-workout session. If you usually wake up barely able to walk because of your previous run, regular foam rolling could make this a lot easier on you.
Those who foam roll regularly can also help break up tension in the tendons and ligaments – tension that could eventually lead to aches and pains down the road.
Improved Blood Flow/Circulation
The next great benefit that foam rolling offers is improved blood flow and increased circulation. With this increased circulation comes increased nutritional delivery to the muscle tissues, repairing damage that may have taken place.
Because of this fact, it’s a good idea to do your foam rolling not only on the days that you do your runs, but also no the days that you have off for rest and recovery as well.
Another big benefit that foam rolling offers is giving you increased flexibility. As you continue to do the foam rolling, you can break down scar tissue that leaves your tendons and ligaments tight and lacking flexibility. As these loosen up, you’ll find that your range of motion when performing your runs is increased, which then leads to an increased performance as well.
The Best Moves For Runners
So now that you know the many benefits of foam rolling, which are the best techniques for runners to use? It’s important to consider where you tend to be most tight and focus on loosening up those areas first and foremost.
This means foam rolling the hamstrings, quads, glutes, as well as the IT band. The IT band in particular is especially important for runners to be focusing on as it’s a common injury that results when excessive tightness is experienced.
To foam roller the hamstrings, you’ll want to simply position the foam roller under the hamstrings and then, placing both hands on the ground beside you, slowly roll back and forth over the foam roller as you feel the tension releasing from this area. When you hit a tight spot, pause briefly, holding that for two to three minutes before you continue to roll on from there.
For the quads, you’ll want to use the same principles, this time placing the foam roller under the front of the thigh region and then foam rolling back and forth across it from there. Go slowly here as well as the quads will often contain muscle knots deep within the tissues that can take some time to get out.
For the glutes, it’s often best to place one knee across the other and then position the roller just under the same side that’s crossing. Hold this position and then foam roller back and forth under the glute. Adding this extra bit of stretch to the muscle as you foam roll will increase the intensity level and help further enhance the overall stretch that you receive.
Finally, it’s also important for runners to foam roll their calves as well. Since the calves will be contracting hard in each and every step you take, if you aren’t careful, you can easily wind up with calves that are tight, tense, and sore at all times.
To foam roll your calves, simply place the foam roller under the calves and then with the feet flexed to induce a calf stretch, slowly roll back and forth as you work through the knots.
Foam rolling is an excellent technique to get into the habit of performing on a regular basis. It can easily be done any time you have an additional five to ten minutes, either on days that you do train or on your off days. You may find it slightly painful as you get started, but as you continue foam rolling, you will come to find that you look forward to each session you do.
For more information on the current research into Foam Rollers, check out this review from our friends at HealthyButSmart.com